Review: Parquet Courts, Boiler Shop, Newcastle

Parquet Courts.
Parquet Courts.

It’s difficult to believe that Parquet Courts only formed eight years ago.

With six rapturously received albums already to their name, the New Yorkers have wasted no time in establishing themselves among contemporary punk’s premier acts, routinely packing out sizeable rooms on both sides of the Atlantic.

If Monday night’s appearance at the Boiler Shop proved anything, however, it’s that they’ve far more up their sleeves than primitive power chords and turbo-charged nuggets.

Indeed, in Wide Awake! the quartet arrived to showcase their finest record to date; an accessible yet diverse collection infusing their raw underground spirit with irresistible rhythms and switches in tempo.

Above all else it’s a testament to their growth as songwriters, and while Total Football kick-started proceedings at a furious, electrifying pace it was often the evening’s more eclectic numbers which stood out.

The delicious, ice-cool strut of When the Water Gets Too High, for instance, saw lead vocalist Andrew Savage don an omnichord, while the hypermelodic Tenderness (receiving only its second live outing) and the groovy, cowbell-inflicted title track were met with all the fervour of habitual fan favourites.

Another perhaps more subtle trick was to replicate some of the finest transitions found in their recorded work.

It’s true that both Almost Had to Start A Fight/In And Out Of Patience and Master Of My Craft are marvellous songs in their own right – but to follow them in familiar fashion with the glorious Freebird II and urgent charge of Borrowed Time only served to dial up an already considerable stream of momentum.

There was one moment where they seemingly blotted their copybook, stretching the uncharacteristically lengthy One Man No City into a near 15-minute behemoth.

At the time it seemed wholly unnecessary and completely at odds with the rest of their performance – yet when followed by the marvellous minute-long Light Up Gold this indulgence suddenly made complete sense.

As the evening’s final act, it made for an unconventional yet thrilling climax; the contrast between the two numbers acting as a perverse supplement to the latter’s terrific, invigorating rush.

As it was, the only sour note came courtesy of a minority in attendance. While the crowd as a whole was a tad flat (hardly unusual on a Monday night), there were some who’d clearly found time for a few hours of pre-gig drinking.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with having a few pints before a gig, but not when your actions – excessively violent moshing; acting like you’re at a football match; goggling at the opposite sex – are to the detriment of your fellow punters.

This is neither a reflection on Parquet Courts nor the Boiler Shop – the responsibility lies solely with a handful of antisocial, predominantly male individuals whose toxic behaviour only degrades further once alcohol is added into the mix.

It’s an issue that’s becoming increasingly prevalent at larger city centre shows, and one which needs to be called out and stamped out – be it by fellow audience members, venue staff or the acts themselves.

ALISTAIR WELFORD